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Prep volleyball: Brisa Winterton is All-Tribune Team MVP

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Paul Fraughton | Salt Lake Tribune Brisa Winterton, who was the starting setter on the Pleasant Grove High School's 5A state championship team. Monday, August 19, 2013

By Bubba Brown

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Dec 16 2013 03:45PM
Updated Dec 16, 2013 11:14PM

Pleasant Grove • Pleasant Grove setter Brisa Winterton straddled a front-row bleacher and surveyed the gym. The Vikings girls’ basketball team was beginning its practice, and balls hitting hardwood drowned out the ambient noise percolating outside the gym.

Perhaps now that Winterton was witnessing that ownership of the gym officially had been transferred to the school’s basketball teams, it began to hit her that it was over. Never again as a player would she step on a high school volleyball court.

Winterton, the 2013 All-Tribune Team Most Valuable Player, pondered her career as a Viking, the matches she’d won in that gym and the girls she’d won them with. She thought about legacies. A leader on a team that won consecutive Class 5A state titles, she knew what she wanted hers to be.

"[Winning] is something I want to be remembered for, but I also want our team to be remembered for how hard we worked," Winterton said. "It’s a hard road to come back from a state championship to do it again. We struggled a lot this season."

Despite all of her personal success — she averaged 9.9 assists per set and had 268 digs this season, according to MaxPreps.com — any discussion with Winterton about Pleasant Grove’s season inevitably turns to her teammates. She eventually reveals why that is. Without her teammates, volleyball may not have become a passion she’s spent much of her life pursuing.

"I like volleyball because it’s such a team sport," she said. "You always have to be playing as a team. You can’t do it with one person, so you have to rely on others to achieve your goals. You build lifelong friendships."

Winterton gives credit to her teammates because she knows she wouldn’t have been able to bring another state title to Pleasant Grove alone. Yet sitting in the gym, she doesn’t lose sight of her contributions or of the price she paid to get the Vikings back on top.

"I’m just a really hard worker," she said. "Ever since sophomore year, I wanted to start. I always worked hard to be the No. 1 person at my position. I think I’m a fighter. I don’t like to lose."

Fighter is a word Pleasant Grove coach Allyce Jones also uses to describe Winterton, whose competitive streak can be traced to her mother.

"It’s kind of funny, because her parents will sit separate from each other because her mom’s so fiery," Jones said. "When [Brisa] is on the court, she looks like she’s pissed half the time, but it’s just because she’s so dang competitive.

"She’s a fighter. That was kind of the difference, that she kind of took that road as a leader. Didn’t matter what the score was, she was looking at her team, saying, ‘Hey, we’re gonna do this. Let’s go.’"

Winterton is unsure what’s next, now that her high school career is over. She said she has collegiate volleyball offers, but she’s unsure if that’s the right path for her. Her immediate volleyball future is unclear for the first time since she began playing when she was a child.

But if this season was it, if she’ll never play competitively again, Winterton regrets nothing of a career that’s taken her to the heights of Utah prep volleyball.

"It was definitely worth it," she said. "I would never put myself as, like, the No. 1 player, so that’s why I’ve always worked so hard. To finally have that recognition is a neat opportunity because I know how hard I’ve worked."

bbrown@sltrib.com

Twitter: @BubbaSLTrib

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